Fride Høistad Schei

Research Scientist

(+47) 415 02 876
fride.schei@nibio.no

Place
Bergen - Fana

Visiting address
Fanaflaten 4, 5244 Fana

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Abstract

Aim: Revisits of non-permanent, relocatable plots first surveyed several decades ago offer a direct way to observe vegetation change and form a unique and increasingly used source of information for global change research. Despite the important insights that can be obtained from resurveying these quasi-permanent vegetation plots, their use is prone to both observer and relocation errors. Studying the combined effects of both error types is important since they will play out together in practice and it is yet unknown to what extent observed vegetation changes are influenced by these errors. Methods: We designed a study that mimicked all steps in a resurvey study and that allowed determination of the magnitude of observer errors only vs the joint observer and relocation errors. Communities of vascular plants growing in the understorey of temperate forests were selected as study system. Ten regions in Europe were covered to explore generality across contexts and 50 observers were involved, which deliberately differed in their experience in making vegetation records. Results: The mean geographic distance between plots in the observer+relocation error data set was 24 m. The mean relative difference in species richness in the observer error and the observer+relocation data set was 15% and 21%, respectively. The mean “pseudo-turnover” between the five records at a quasi-permanent plot location was on average 0.21 and 0.35 for the observer error and observer+relocation error data sets, respectively. More detailed analyses of the compositional variation showed that the nestedness and turnover components were of equal importance in the observer data set, whereas turnover was much more important than nestedness in the observer+relocation data set. Interestingly, the differences between the observer and the observer+relocation data sets largely disappeared when looking at temporal change: both the changes in species richness and species composition over time were very similar in these data sets. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that observer and relocation errors are nonnegligible when resurveying quasi-permanent plots. A careful interpretation of the results of resurvey studies is warranted, especially when changes are assessed based on a low number of plots. We conclude by listing measures that should be taken to maximally increase the precision and the strength of the inferences drawn from vegetation resurveys.

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Abstract

More and more ecologists have started to resurvey communities sampled in earlier decades to determine long-term shifts in community composition and infer the likely drivers of the ecological changes observed. However, to assess the relative importance of and interactions among multiple drivers, joint analyses of resurvey data from many regions spanning large environmental gradients are needed. In this article, we illustrate how combining resurvey data from multiple regions can increase the likelihood of driver orthogonality within the design and show that repeatedly surveying across multiple regions provides higher representativeness and comprehensiveness, allowing us to answer more completely a broader range of questions. We provide general guidelines to aid the implementation of multiregion resurvey databases. In so doing, we aim to encourage resurvey database development across other community types and biomes to advance global environmental change research.

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Abstract

Background: Resurveying historical vegetation plots has become more and more popular in recent years as it provides a unique opportunity to estimate vegetation and environmental changes over the past decades. Most historical plots, however, are not permanentlymarked and uncertainty in plot location, in addition to observer bias and seasonal bias, may add significant errors to temporal change. These errorsmay havemajor implications for the reliability of studies on long-term environmental change and deserve closer attention of vegetation ecologists. Methods: Vegetation data obtained from the resurveying of non-permanently marked plots are assessed for their potential to study environmental change effects on plant communities and the challenges the use of such data have to meet. We describe the properties of vegetation resurveys, distinguishing basic types of plots according to relocation error, and we highlight the potential of such data types for studying vegetation dynamics and their drivers. Finally, we summarize the challenges and limitations of resurveying non-permanently marked vegetation plots for different purposes in environmental change research. Results and conclusions: Re-sampling error is caused by three main independent sources of error: error caused by plot relocation, observer bias and seasonality bias. For relocation error, vegetation plots can be divided into permanent and non-permanent plots, while the latter are further divided into quasi-permanent (with approximate relocation) and non-traceable (with random relocation within a sampled area) plots. To reduce the inherent sources of error in resurvey data, the following precautions should be followed: (i) resurvey historical vegetation plots whose approximate plot location within a study area is known; (ii) consider all information available from historical studies in order to keep plot relocation errors low; (iii) resurvey at times of the year when vegetation development is comparable to the historical survey to control for seasonal variability in vegetation; (iv) retain a high level of experience of the observers to keep observer bias low; and (v) edit and standardize data sets before analyses.

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Abstract

Aim Previous research on how climatic niches vary across species ranges has focused on a limited number of species, mostly inv asive, and has not, to date, been very conclusive. Here we assess the degree of niche conservatism between distant populations of native alpine plant species that have been separated for thousands of years. Location European Alps and Fennoscandia. Methods Of the studied pool of 888 terrestr ial vascular plant species occurring in both the Alps and Fennoscandia, we used two complementary approaches to test and quantify climatic-niche shifts for 31 species having strictly disjunct populations and 358 species having either a contiguous or a patchy distribution with distant populations. First, we used species distr i- bution modelling to test for a region effect on each species’ climatic niche. Second, we quantified niche overlap and shifts in niche width (i.e. ecological amplitude) and position (i.e. ecological optimum) within a bi-dimensional climatic space. Results Only one species (3%) of the 31 species with str ictly disjunct populations and 58 species (16%) of the 358 species with distant popula- tions showed a region effect on their climatic niche. Niche overlap was higher for species with strictly disjunct populations than for species with distant populations and highest for arctic–alpine species. Climatic niches were, on average, wider and located towards warmer and wetter conditions in the Alps. Main conclusion Climatic niches seem to be generally conserved between populations that are separated between the Alps and Fennoscandia and have probably been so for 10,000–15,000 years. Therefore, the basic assumption of species distribution models that a species’ climatic niche is constant in space and time – at least on time scales 10 4 years or less – seems to be largely valid for arctic–alpine plants.

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Abstract

Retention of selected trees in clear-felling areas has become an important conservation measure in managed forests. Trees with large size or high age are usually preferred as retention trees. In this paper we investigated whether a single large or several small trees should be left in clear-felling areas to serve as life boats and future habitat for epiphytic species. The focal species were 25 Lobarion epiphytic lichens hosted by aspen (Populus tremula). We analyzed the relationships between: (1) proportion of trees colonized and tree size, (2) number of lichen thalli (lichen bodies) and aspen area, and (3) number of lichen species and aspen area, for 38 forest sites. Mixed effect models and rarefaction analyzes showed that large and small host trees had the same proportion of trees colonized, the same number of thalli, and the same species richness for the same area of aspen bark. This indicates that larger aspens do not have qualities, beyond size, that make them more suitable for Lobarion lichens than smaller sized aspen trees. None of the species, not even the red-listed, showed any tendencies of being dependent on larger aspens, and our results therefore did not support a strategy of retaining only large and old trees for conservation of epiphytic Lobarion lichens. Additionally, young aspens have a longer expected persistence than old aspens. However, old retention trees might be important for other species groups. We therefore recommend a conservational strategy of retaining a mixed selection of small/young and large/old aspens.

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Abstract

Recent studies from mountainous areas of small spatial extent (<2,500 km2) suggest that fine-grained thermal variability over tens or hundreds of metres exceeds much of the climate warming expected for the coming decades. Such variability in temperature provides buffering to mitigate climate-change impacts. Is this local spatial buffering restricted to topographically complex terrains? To answer this, we here study fine-grained thermal variability across a 2,500-km wide latitudinal gradient in Northern Europe encompassing a large array of topographic complexities. We first combined plant community data, Ellenberg temperature indicator values, locally measured temperatures (LmT), and globally interpolated temperatures (GiT) in a modelling framework to infer biologically relevant temperature conditions from plant assemblages within <1,000-m2 units (community-inferred temperatures: CiT). We then assessed: (1) CiT range (thermal variability) within 1-km2 units; (2) the relationship between CiT range and topographically- and geographically-derived predictors at 1-km resolution; and (3) whether spatial turnover in CiT is greater than spatial turnover in GiT within 100-km2 units. Ellenberg temperature indicator values in combination with plant assemblages explained 46-72% of variation in LmT and 92-96% of variation in GiT during the growing season (June, July, August). Growing-season CiT range within 1-km2 units peaked at 60-65°N and increased with terrain roughness, averaging 1.97°C (SD = 0.84°C) and 2.68°C (SD = 1.26°C) within the flattest and roughest units, respectively. Complex interactions between topography-related variables and latitude explained 35% of variation in growing-season CiT range when accounting for sampling effort and residual spatial autocorrelation. Spatial turnover in growing-season CiT within 100-km2 units was, on average, 1.8 times greater (0.32°C km-1) than spatial turnover in growing-season GiT (0.18°C km-1). We conclude that thermal variability within 1-km2 units strongly increases local spatial buffering of future climate warming across Northern Europe, even in the flattest terrains.

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Abstract

Background: Studies quantifying and comparing the variation and degree of compositional stability of vegetation and what determines this stability are needed to better understand the effects of the projected climate change. Aims: We quantified long-term vegetation changes in different habitats in northern Europe by exploring changes in species co-occurrences and their links to diversity and productivity gradients. Methods: We re-sampled vegetation in 16 arctic, mountain, and mire sites 20 to 90 years after first inventories. A site-specific change in species assemblages (stability) was quantified using species co-occurrences. We tested if the observed changes were significantly greater than would be expected by chance using a randomisation test. Relationships between patterns in vegetation stability and time between surveys, numbers of plots, or species diversity and proxies for productivity were tested using regression analysis. Results: At most sites, changes in species co-occurrences of vascular plants and bryophytes were greater than expected by chance. Observed changes were not found to be related to gradients in productivity or diversity. Conclusions: Changes in species co-occurrences are not strongly linked to diversity or productivity gradients in vegetation, suggesting that other gradients or site-specific factors (e.g. land-use, species interactions) might be more important in controlling recent compositional shifts in vegetation in northern Europe.

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Abstract

Continental-scale assessments of 21st century global impacts of climate change on biodiversity have forecasted range contractions for many species. These coarse resolution studies are, however, of limited relevance for projecting risks to biodiversity in mountain systems, where pronounced microclimatic variation could allow species to persist locally, and are ill-suited for assessment of species-specific threat in particular regions. Here, we assess the impacts of climate change on 2632 plant species across all major European mountain ranges, using high-resolution (ca. 100 m) species samples and data expressing four future climate scenarios. Projected habitat loss is greater for species distributed at higher elevations; depending on the climate scenario, we find 36–55% of alpine species, 31–51% of subalpine species and 19–46% of montane species lose more than 80% of their suitable habitat by 2070–2100. While our high-resolution analyses consistently indicate marked levels of threat to cold-adapted mountain florae across Europe, they also reveal unequal distribution of this threat across the various mountain ranges. Impacts on florae from regions projected to undergo increased warming accompanied by decreased precipitation, such as the Pyrenees and the Eastern Austrian Alps, will likely be greater than on florae in regions where the increase in temperature is less pronounced and rainfall increases concomitantly, such as in the Norwegian Scandes and the Scottish Highlands. This suggests that change in precipitation, not only warming, plays an important role in determining the potential impacts of climate change on vegetation.